For seasoned Music & Drama Company (MDC) performer Candy Chye, the stage is her artistic canvas, a centrepiece where her love for music, theatre and dance can coalesce beautifully for everyone to see. Having performed at some of Singapore’s biggest celebrations, such as Chingay and the National Day Parade, she has also taken up hosting duties, enlivening events like the Basic Military Training Centre’s Passing Out Parade with her genial disposition.
Beyond the theatrics, however, lies the heart of a true activist. A staunch advocate for the environment, Candy is more than willing to get her hands dirty for the betterment of our world. She has participated in numerous beach cleaning excursions and employed home-based eco-friendly initiatives that she encourages her colleagues and loved ones to contribute to as well. Just as a performer works with her co-stars to put on a show, she seeks to rally those around her in her bid to save our planet.
Here, she shares about her journey as a performer for the MDC, her eco-friendly endeavours and her hopes for the future.
A serendipitous encounter
It’s hard to imagine that this multi-talented performer was once a struggling artist. “I was spending a lot on costumes and classes,” she recalls, unsure if her investments would ever see fruition. “A friend invited me to perform at one of her gigs. While the event was not a high profile one, I was over the moon doing what I love most – performing! I knew immediately that I had to quit my then-office job to pursue the great unknown,” she adds.
Since then, she has explored the world of performing, securing whatever role, big or small, that would allow her to work on her craft. That led her to stints at Sentosa’s Songs of the Sea and Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, the latter of which saw her mingling with a local dance troupe. This encounter would soon prove to be her golden ticket. She elaborates, “One of the performers found out that I was barely making ends meet, and suggested that I audition for a spot at the Music & Drama Company. What I thought was a long shot eventuated to an exciting partnership spanning 9 years and counting!”
Adding eco-warrior to her repertoire
Candy’s first real introduction to the problems plaguing our climate was truly an eye-opener.
Joining environmental group SG Beach Warriors on one of their regular beach cleanups, she was appalled by the amount of waste languishing on our seaboard. “Faith, the founder of the group, shared with me about a time she witnessed a turtle attempting to lay eggs on the beach. It couldn’t, however, as the area was strewn with rubbish. The turtle tried and tried again but she just couldn’t dig a hole that she could incubate her eggs in,” she recounted.
Candy knew that she no longer wanted to be a bystander to such wanton cruelty resulting from our actions, or lack thereof.
It all begins at home
Eco-friendliness as a way of life is arguably, easier for Candy than most. Frugality was a constant theme in her formative years, with her family scrimping and saving whatever they could, which included using hand-me-downs from their relatives and friends.
As clichéd as it sounds, it really is all about the little things. For Candy, she carries a foldable reusable bag and her own metal straw wherever she goes. While they are costlier than plastic bags and straws, it really is “an investment since they are more durable and long-lasting.” She has also replaced liquid soaps with bar soaps and conventional plastic toothbrushes with recyclable wooden ones. Not to mention that she has even made her own deodorant from organic and environmentally-friendly materials!
With that said, it is important to remember that no one is perfect. “Initially, there were times when I would forget to bring my reusables with me and I would feel really guilty. I was so harsh on myself then,” she recollects. But she would remind herself that this eco-friendly journey shouldn’t be a negative experience, but rather a wholesome and insightful one.
“I have learnt to cut myself some slack.” she added.
It isn’t a one-man show
Despite her own progress, Candy is aware that our planet’s well-being is a collective responsibility. But not everyone is as receptive to this undertaking, including her own parents.
“They don’t really see the point in any of this. But that doesn’t stop me – I still do everything I can to encourage them,” she says. And if words won’t do the trick, action might. Whenever she anticipates her parents ordering food takeaways, she would prepare reusable containers for them to bring along. Most recently, she started a recycling corner at home, where she and her parents would dispose of recyclable refuse that would later be sent to collection centres like Bloobin.
The success of her recycling corner has inspired her to recreate it during her shows, she reveals. “My colleagues would deposit their empty plastic bottles into the bin, which I would then send to a Bloobin at the end of the work day.” During those same shows, she would also repackage leftover snacks and distribute them to the labourers at various construction sites afterwards.
Beyond our little red dot
While we have made huge strides in our local environmental endeavours, there is still a lot we can learn from other parts of the world.
Candy described her recent trip to Seoul, where “the AirBnB that I was staying in required us to separate the wrappers from our plastic bottles, as well as catalogue our waste properly or risk a fine. It’s mind-blowing! Even in Australia, they have recycling bins everywhere!”
She adds, “We definitely have it easy here. That is probably why we face such difficulty breaking our bad habits.”
And it is her experience, both local and international, that spurs her on to continue spreading awareness of the benefits of an eco-friendly lifestyle. Whether it is her refillable 2-litre bottle, or the collapsible food and drink containers that she brings to work, Candy intends to lead by her everyday examples, proving that the little things do add up.
Not sure where to start when it comes to saving the environment? You can volunteer with these green movement groups in Singapore.
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